Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West

Overview

The 1862 battle of Pea Ridge in northwestern Arkansas was one of the largest Civil War engagements fought on the western frontier, and it dramatically altered the balance of power in the Trans-Mississippi. This study of the battle is based on research in archives from Connecticut to California and includes a pioneering study of the terrain of the sprawling battlefield, as well as an examination of soldiers' personal experiences, the use of Native American troops, and the role of Pea Ridge in regional folklore.

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Overview

The 1862 battle of Pea Ridge in northwestern Arkansas was one of the largest Civil War engagements fought on the western frontier, and it dramatically altered the balance of power in the Trans-Mississippi. This study of the battle is based on research in archives from Connecticut to California and includes a pioneering study of the terrain of the sprawling battlefield, as well as an examination of soldiers' personal experiences, the use of Native American troops, and the role of Pea Ridge in regional folklore.

"A model campaign history that merits recognition as a major contribution to the literature on Civil War military operations."—Journal of Military History

"Shines welcome light on the war's largest battle west of the Mississippi."—USA Today

"With its exhaustive research and lively prose style, this military study is virtually a model work of its kind."—Publishers Weekly

"A thoroughly researched and well-told account of an important but often neglected Civil War encounter."—Kirkus Reviews

"Offers the rich tactical detail, maps, and order of battle that military scholars love but retains a very readable style combined with liberal use of recollections of the troops and leaders involved."—Library Journal

"This book is assured of a place among the best of all studies that have been published on Civil War campaigns."—American Historical Review

"Destined to become a Civil War classic and a model for writing military history."—Civil War History

"A campaign study of a caliber that all should strive for and few will equal."—Journal of American History

"An excellent and detailed book in all accounts, scholarly and readable, with both clear writing and excellent analysis. . . . Utterly essential . . . for any serious student of the Civil War."—Civil War News

On 6-8 March 1862, one of the earliest pitched battles of the Civil War took place on a wintry field in northwestern Arkansas. Based on archival research, this study reveals how the battle of Pea Ridge dramatically altered the balance of power in the Trans-Mississippi in favor of the Federals, and also details the use of Native American troops. 43 illustrations; 18 maps.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With its exhaustive research and lively prose style, this military study is virtually a model work of its kind. Shea and Hess, who teach history at the University of Arkansas at Monticello and Lincoln Memorial University (Tenn.), respectively, convincingly argue that the 1862 campaign for Pea Ridge (Ark.) decisively changed the balance of power in the West, with the Union gaining effective control of Missouri. Samuel Curtis, commander of the Federal Army of the Southwest, understood the strategic requirements of his theater, according to the authors, and elicited the best performance from his troops, even though they were beset by internal tensions. The Southern commander, Earl van Dorn, the authors maintain, was a swashbuckler out of his depth--particularly in light of the administrative weaknesses of the trans-Mississippi Confederacy. Their detailed analysis of the climactic battle impressively conveys the difficulties of the improvised armies that groped for and grappled with each other in the Civil War West. Illustrations not seen by PW. BOMC and History Book Club selections. (Nov.)
Library Journal
The battle of Pea Ridge, fought in northwestern Arkansas in March 1862, was probably the most important trans-Mississippi battle of the Civil War. It was unusual in the use of Indian troops and in the Confederates' numerical superiority, better supplies, and inferior leadership. The battle ended any serious Confederate threat to Missouri and opened the Union's path into Arkansas. The book offers the rich tactical detail, maps, and order of battle that military scholars love but retains a very readable style combined with liberal use of recollections of the troops and leaders involved. Shea (history, Univ. of Arkansas) and Hess (history, Lincoln Memorial Univ.) do, however, suffer from a touch of logorrhea; the narrative rumbles along for nearly 100 pages after the battle ends. Nonetheless, this is an important book for academic libraries and for public libraries in the region. BOMC and History Book Club selections.-- Fritz Buckallew, Univ. of Central Oklahoma Lib., Edmond
From the Publisher
A model campaign history that merits recognition as a major contribution to the literature on Civil War military operations.

Journal of Military History

Shines welcome light on the war's largest battle west of the Mississippi.

USA Today

Pea Ridge is destined to become a Civil War classic and a model for writing military history.

Civil War History

A thoroughly researched and well-told account of an important but often neglected Civil War encounter.

Kirkus Reviews

[A]ssured of a place among the best of all studies that have been published on Civil War campaigns.

American Historical Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807846698
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/1997
  • Series: Civil War America Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 722,471
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 1.33 (d)

Meet the Author

William L. Shea, professor of history at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, is author of The Virginia Militia in the Seventeenth Century.

Earl J. Hess is associate professor of history at Lincoln Memorial University. He is author of several books, including Lee's Tar Heels: The Pettigrew-Kirkland-MacRae Brigade and Pickett's Charge—The Last Attack at Gettysburg.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Preface
1. Winter Campaign
2. Price's Running Stand
3. The Hunter and the Hunted
4. Rush to Glory
5. Death of a Texan
6. Battle in the Brush
7. A Battle Half Won
8. Clash in Cross Timber Hollow
9. Perseverance beside a Tavern
10. High Tide at Elkhorn
11. Soften the Heart
12. Thunder in the Ozarks
13. Victory and Defeat
14. The Vulture and the Wolf
15. Marching through Arkansas
Conclusion. A Military Analysis of Pea Ridge
Appendix 1. The Legacy of Pea Ridge
Appendix 2. Order of Battle
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Maps
1-1. Southern Missouri and Northern Arkansas
2-1. Springfield to Little Sugar Creek
2-2. Northwestern Arkansas
4-1. Bentonville: McIntosh Attempts to Intercept Sigel
5-1. Pea Ridge: Midday, March 7
5-2. Leetown: Osterhaus Engages McCulloch on Foster's Farm
5-3. Leetown: McCulloch and McIntosh Are Killed
6-1. Leetown: Hébert Advances against Davis
6-2. Leetown: Hébert Breaches the Federal Line
7-1. Leetown: The Federals Counterattack and the Confederates Withdraw
8-1. Elkhorn Tavern: Van Dorn and Carr Deploy
9-1. Elkhorn Tavern: Vandever Attacks Slack
9-2. Elkhorn Tavern: Carr Shortens His Line as Van Dorn Prepares to Attack
10-1. Elkhorn Tavern: Van Dorn Attacks and Carr Falls Back across Ruddick's Field
11-1. Pea Ridge: Night of March 7-8
12-1. Elkhorn Tavern: 9:00 A.M., March 8
12-2. Elkhorn Tavern: 10:00 A.M., March 8
15-1. March of the Army of the Southwest, February-July 1862

Illustrations
Samuel Ryan Curtis
Franz Sigel
Sterling Price
Benjamin McCulloch
Earl Van Dorn
Albert Pike
Elkhorn Tavern
Telegraph Road
Alexander Asboth
James McIntosh
The northern bluff of Little Sugar Creek, from Telegraph Road near the site of Trott's store
Remains of trenches the Federals constructed atop the northern bluff of Little Sugar Creek
Grenville M. Dodge
Peter J. Osterhaus
Foster's farm, looking northeast from the approximate location of Elbert's battery
Nicholas Greusel
Louis Héebert
Jefferson C. Davis
Morgan's woods, east of Leetown Road
Julius White
Oberson's field, looking northwest from the site of Davidson's battery
Eugene A. Carr
Tanyard Ravine, looking northward down the slope that forms the head of this ravine
Huntsville Road, looking west toward Elkhorn Tavern
Henry Little
Francis J. Herron, William Vandever, and William H. Coyl
Elkhorn Tavern, with the head of Tanyard Ravine to its rear and the eastern extremity of Big Mountain in the background
Hunt Wilson's painting of Guibor's battery in action against Carr's beleaguered Federals on the evening of March 7
Artillery pieces mark the location of Guibor's battery in front of Elkhorn Tavern on the evening of March 7
Clemon's field, looking east from Dodge's position
Hunt Wilson's painting of Pratt's store on the morning of March 8
An Artillery piece marking the location of Welfley's battery atop Welfley's Knoll
Welfley's Knoll, looking west from Telegraph Road across Ruddick's field
Hunt Wilson's painting of the Confederate army just before it began to retreat from the battlefield on March 8
Sandstone columns on the west face of the rocky promontory on Big Mountain
The battlefield of March 8, looking south from the rocky promontory on Big Mountain
The battlefield of March 8, looking southwest from the rocky promontory on Big Mountain
The battlefield of March 8, looking west from the rocky promontory on Big Mountain Cyrus Bussey
Frederick Steele
"Pioneers from Carr's Division, May 21, 1862," by Robert O. Sweeney
"Elkhorn Tavern, Battle Ground of Pea Ridge, Ark.," by Robert O. Sweeney
The 37th Illinois battling Hébert's brigade in Morgan's woods, March 7, 1862

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